Salivary Gland Swelling Average Cost

From 243 quotes ranging from $200 - 800

Average Cost


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What is Salivary Gland Swelling?

The most common type of salivary gland swelling happens when salivary mucoceles form near an affected gland. These mucoceles are sometimes referred to as ranulas or salivary cysts. When a gland is damaged, usually from trauma, it can begin to leak saliva into surrounding tissue. The saliva accumulation irritates the tissue, causing an inflammatory response to wall off the collection of fluid. A salivary fistula is another cause of salivary gland swelling. Once again, trauma to the gland causes an excess of saliva to be produced, which can prevent wounds in the mouth from healing. A fistula (opening) can then develop at the wound site. Both of these conditions can range in severity, from mild to life-threatening.

The salivary glands produce saliva which assists the digestion process by lubricating chewed food. Cats have five different salivary glands including the mandibular, molar, parotid, sublingual and zygomatic. These glands are located on either side of the mouth, under the tongue, and near the throat. Swelling of these glands usually indicates injury has happened, and can create other oral health problems.

Symptoms of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

Symptoms and their severity will differ depending the location and size of the cyst or fistula. Many symptoms will deter the cat from eating, which can lead to dangerous weight loss. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Soft mass in the mouth
  • Swelling of the face
  • Ptyalism (drooling)
  • Vomiting
  • Dysphagia (difficulty eating)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exophthalmia (eye bulging)
  • Dyspnea (labored breathing)
  • Lethargy
  • Pain when touched near the mouth
  • Fever
  • Bad breath

Causes of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

While trauma may cause salivary gland swelling, often the condition appears spontaneously. There are many possible contributing factors to the swelling, though none are definitive. Potential causes include:

  • Trauma to a gland or duct (often from a bite wound)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Birth defect
  • Cancerous growth
  • Inflammatory blockage
  • Prior surgery
  • Abscess drainage
  • Infection

Diagnosis of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

The veterinarian will need all records of the cat’s medical history. A physical examination will be performed with focus in and around the mouth. The vet will palpate the face, throat and neck to check for swelling and mucoceles. There are other oral issues that share some of the symptoms of salivary gland swelling that will have to be ruled out, including cancer, a foreign object, growths, or dental abscesses. 

A fine needle aspiration biopsy is the best way to reveal if a mucocele is present. If the fluid removed is thick, golden and stringy, complete diagnosis can be made. X-rays, ultrasounds or computed tomography can confirm that no other underlying issue is present. Full blood work should be run, including a complete blood count and serum chemistry to show the overall health of the cat.

Treatment of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

Very mild cases of gland swelling may not require treatment. Advanced cases of mucoceles can interfere with the breathing process and prevent the cat from eating. Fistulas may become infected, which can then spread throughout the body.

Surgical Removal of the Gland 

In both types of salivary gland swelling, removal of the damaged gland can completely eradicate the issue. Sometimes an entire chain of glands need to be removed, while other in other instances, only one gland needs to be excised. Incision size will depend on the affected gland. General anesthesia is required for this procedure. When a mucocele is present, it is lanced and drained before the gland is removed. It may help to also perform a marsupialization procedure while removing the gland. 

Surgical Ligation

In the case of a fistula, surgically tying off the damaged duct can help to stop saliva leakage.


If infection is present, or if surgery has been performed, antibiotics will be prescribed to eliminate harmful bacteria. Prescriptions generally last from one to four weeks.

Recovery of Salivary Gland Swelling in Cats

After oral surgery, close monitoring will be needed to ensure the incision site heals without becoming infected. Soft foods may be necessary until the cat can properly chew. Administer all painkillers and antibiotics that have been prescribed by your veterinarian. Eliminating stress in the home and limiting your cat’s activity can promote quick healing. 

Your cat will be scheduled for a post-surgery checkup appointment to ensure the incision is healing and that the surgery was performed correctly. If the surgical removal of the gland is successful, often no more related issues will occur in the cat. As the causes of salivary mucoceles and fistulas is vastly unknown, it is hard to prevent them from developing in the first place.

Salivary Gland Swelling Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

5 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
swollen gland

Medication Used

Clavamox antibiotic- oral

According to my vet, my cat has a swollen salivary gland. She says she has no idea why it's happening and short of expensive scans and blood work she is not sure how to determine what's wrong with him. He started with what my vet said was an ear infection with black discharge. He was placed on ear drops but when he started having trouble breathing and drainage in his sinuses, they also put him on antibiotics. That's when the swollen gland appeared. He's a 100% indoor cat and has up to date shots and been ruled out of leukemia and FIV. He's not on antibiotics and a steroid. He is still having sinus drainage, still swollen, still having discharge in his ear even though I clean it daily and has lost a lot of weight from not eating. I'm not sure what to do besides pay hundreds of dollars to rule out other illnesses.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
A salivary gland may be swollen for a variety of reasons and the underlying cause is important in order to direct treatment as different causes are managed differently. Further testing is required to determine the underlying cause of the swelling; however, if you are concerned you should visit another Veterinarian in your area for a second hands on opinion to see if they are able to determine a cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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13 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Eye Bulging
Loss of Appetite

Just notice that my cat Kawali has been drooling alot and his appetite has decreased tremendously. Upon cleaning the saliva from his mouth I noticed a huge red bubble under his tongue that his tongue is to the side. Is there any treatment outside surgery? Kawali is 13 years old.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
It sounds like Kawali has a ranula (salivary mucocele) which is causing the displacement of the tongue; there are two main options: 1) draining on a regular basis or 2) surgery. You should have the ranula checked by your Veterinarian to confirm that is the cause and that the mass isn’t a tumour or other lesion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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domestic short hair
16 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

mouth pain when opening wide
third eyelid protrusion
eye inflammation
can't chew or eat on his own
Sunken Eye
Weight Loss

Medication Used

Recovery cat food
subcutaneous fluids

My 16 yr old male cat was diagnosed with a swollen salivary gland (right side behind jaw area) after x-rays and aspiration of the nodule. My vet wants to do a steroid injection along with subcu fluids. He has not been able to eat on his own for a week. It all started with eye inflammation on the right side, the eye started sinking in with the 3rd eyelid protruding. He has also lost a significant amount of weight since he has not been able to eat much before he stopped eating. We thought it was his bad tooth causing all the mouth issues. Which could be contributing. Vet wants to get this under control before undergoing tooth extraction. Will the steroid injection help? Will he eventually have to have surgery to remove the gland?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations
There are various types of salivary gland swelling which include mucocele, infection, cancer among other causes; the specific cause of the swelling would vary the treatment given. The sunken eye and third eyelid would be indicative of Horner’s Syndrome which isn’t typically associated with salivary gland disorders; I cannot say if steroids would help in this case as I haven’t examined Buttons, surgical excision may be required but Button’s age may not allow. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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12 Years
Mild condition
-1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Fluid buldge

Medication Used


My cat has had fluid filled bump on her face (cheek area) for about a year and a half. I drain it every couple days when it starts to feel too firm and watery clear liquid comes out. I took her to the vet when it first occurred and they tested it and said there was no signs of cancer but didn't know what it was.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2466 Recommendations

It may just be a cyst, but if it needs to be drained regularly it would be best to have it removed if Luna is a suitable candidate for surgery. A sample of fluid drained should also be taken and sent for cytology which may be able to indicate any cells present in the fluid. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM


My cat had the same issue. His sublingual gland was so swollen that he wasn't able to eat or drink. It was so sad to watch him becoming less energetic and playful. He would look at the food, try to eat, but not been able to eat. After I talked to my cousin, who had the same kind of problem, his salivary gland was swollen due to stone obstructing the salivary duct. And he was advised by doctor to eat foods like lemon to increase the salivation. Increasing the salivation would increase the pressure inside the gland and would push the stone out and it worked. SO I FILLED THE SYRINGE WITH THE LEMON JUICE AND SPRAYED 1-2ML INTO MY CATS MOUTH, AND I DID IT EVERY 3-4 HOUR. BELIEVE OR NOT, WITHIN A DAY THE GLAND STARTED TO SOFTEN AND 2 DAYS IT DISSAPPEARED. What a relieve!

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